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Eelam supporters disrupt TNA meeting in Canada

By Pamodi Waravita

Protestors had yesterday (21) stormed a meeting in Canada, at which Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MPs M.A. Sumanthiran PC and Shanakiyan Rasamanickam had participated, allegedly “insisting on a separate state for Tamil Eelam”.

“The protestors claimed they did not want a political settlement and insisted that a separate state of Tamil Eelam was the only solution to the Tamil national question,” Rasamanickam said in a Tweet yesterday (21).

Reportedly, the protest had occurred at an event held in Canada, organised by TNA Canada, where both Rasamanickam and Sumanthiran were speakers. Reportedly, some protestors were also carrying flags of the Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE) terrorist organisation and placards accusing Sumanthiran of being a “Sinhala patriot”.

Attempts by The Morning yesterday to contact Rasamanickam with regard to the incident proved futile.

Sumanthiran and Rasamanickam were in the US last week, meeting with US State Department officials for discussions regarding the new constitution.

According to the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), a delegation of GTF and TNA representatives had also met US House Foreign Affairs Committee officials and “discussed initiatives on greater US Government involvement in finding a political solution for ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka while pursuing justice for victims”.

“We respect people’s right to protest and the requirement for space to air opposing views. Only through constructive two way conversations can the best and optimum decisions be reached. Constructive criticism is part of any democratic society. However, we categorically condemn disorderly behaviour,” GTF Spokesperson Suren Surendiran told The Morning yesterday.

When the TNA met representatives of the European Union (EU) in September this year, they stressed the need for a new constitution to resolve the Tamil national question. Reportedly, TNA Leader R. Sampanthan had last month stressed the need for immediately compiling a new constitution to help resolve issues pertaining to the minority Tamil community.

In an interview with The Sunday Morning on 23 October, Sumanthiran urged that Sri Lanka needs to “go beyond” the controversial 13th Amendment in the Constitution to achieve “meaningful devolution”.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1978 and supported by the Government of India, created the Provincial Councils (PC) election system which led to the establishment of PCs in each province in the country in an attempt at the devolution of power. However, the PCs have since garnered many criticisms, with some members of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) recently calling for its repeal.

“There can be no ‘middle ground’. It is the Rajapaksa Government that gave repeated assurances about implementing the 13th Amendment in full and also going beyond it so as to achieve meaningful devolution after the end of the war. So, it is not ‘middle ground’ that must be found; it should be ‘going beyond’ the 13th Amendment,” said Sumanthiran at the time.

Since 2017, PC elections have not been held as the then Government attempted to introduce legislative changes to the Provincial Councils Act to to reform the process. The new system envisioned a hybrid-style system of both first-past-the-post (FPTP) and proportional representation as opposed to the current system of proportional representation.

When Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shingla visited Sri Lanka last month, he reportedly urged the need to hold PC elections.

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said last month that the work on the new constitution has been finalised by the committee led by Romesh De Silva PC and that it will be presented in Parliament in January 2022.

The nine-member expert committee was appointed in September last year. Led by De Silva PC, its other members include Gamini Marapana PC, Manohara De Silva PC, Sanjeewa Jayawardena PC, Samantha Ratwatte PC, Prof. Naazima Kamardeen, Dr. A .Sarveswaran, Prof. Wasantha Seneviratne, and Prof. G.L. Peiris.